Muscles are a sign of health and vitality, even for dogs. When you own a canine that has muscles rippling like the water, for some pet owners it almost doesn’t matter what the dog's personality is – he is a deterrent to thieves and ne’er-do-wells. Even if your pooch would only lick someone to death, not many people are going to risk making these muscular dog breeds angry.
Whether you are wanting a dog to compete in strength training competitions or a dog to be a guard and scare away strangers, you'll want to check out these dog breeds below. But remember that appearance should never be your main reason for picking a dog. You need to choose a companion that will fit in with your family, environment and lifestyle.
As you'll see, muscled dogs come in many shapes, sizes and personalities. If you want a strong and muscular dog for work or play, you can choose one from this list that is designed especially for your needs, but do your research on the breed before adopting.
Make sure that you know the neighborhood and city rules involving dog breeds in your area, as some of these pups are commonly seen on banned dog breed lists. Also, remember that with muscles come strength. The breeds listed here should always be well socialized and trained to avoid any unfortunate accidents with people or other pets.
22 Most Muscular Dog Breeds
1. American Bully
Although the American Bully has not been recognized by the AKC as an individual breed, many owners object. In fact, the United Canine Association (UCA) started recognizing American Bullies as a separate breed from the American Pit Bull Terrier in 2009.
Pictured above, this breed was recently created as a modern companion and show dog. Breeders sought to breed out undesired traits such as aggression and prey drive, while keeping the muscular physique, dedication, and intelligence.
2. American Pit Bull Terrier
In fact, Pit Bulls are a popular breed for canine body building, with many praising it as a healthy alternative to dog fighting. Owners now have a legal outlet to prove that their canine is truly the top dog of muscles and endurance.
3. American Staffordshire Terrier
If you want to register your American Bully or American Pit Bull Terrier in the AKC, you have no choice but to register it as an American Staffordshire Terrier. Dogs in this breed are descended from the Old English Bulldog.
Made to bait bulls and bears, these pooches had to be tough. You can still see those characteristics today in their muscular bodies and regular exercise needs. While usually good with children, they do not do well with other pets.
This friendly breed has a body that doesn’t match its personality. A friendly dog, the Boxer is considered one of the most muscular dog breeds. You don’t have to take my word for it, just look at them. This breed is immediately recognizable for its chiseled good looks.
Given their friendly disposition, they do not do well as guard dogs or attack dogs, but they do make great dogs for the fairly new sports of Canine Body Building and Canine Strength Competition.
5. English Bulldog
The original bull-baiting dog of England, this breed got its start in the early 13th century. Unlike the American Bulldog breeds, the English Bulldog has lost much of its drive. In fact, they are lazy, wheezing, snorting fur-babies.
Even so, you can still see this canine’s bloody heritage in its well-muscled body. While only about 15 inches in height, they still reach a whopping 50 pounds in weight. I guess the old saying is true, muscle weighs more than fat.
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6. Cane Corso
Also known as the Italian Mastiff, the Cane Corso is large and imposing in stature. To be honest, it is large and imposing in personality, too. You should only own one of these dogs if you are a strong, experienced trainer, and you have them time to train and socialize your pet properly.
Descendant from the old “dogs of war”, this muscular beauty needs lots of exercise and interaction to avoid becoming aggressive. If you have the time to put into this pup, it can be a great family and guard dog.
7. Doberman Pinscher
They might not be a hulking, drooling monster, but the Doberman Pinscher is definitely one of the most muscular dog breeds. Surprisingly to some, they are in the Mastiff class of canines. Brave and loyal, these dogs make excellent guard dogs, but they are still affectionate and playful.
A highly energetic breed, Dobermans require high protein diets to retain their high muscle mass. Like many traditional “guard” dogs, make sure you get your pet from a reputable breeder that doesn’t in-breed for aggressive qualities.
8. Dogo Argentino
The Argentine Mastiff is similar to most other “Mastiff” breeds in stature and personality. Although you won’t see them going to war beside other Mastiffs anymore, this breed is prized for its hunting and athletic ability.
Still used as guard dogs and show dogs, the Dogo Argentino is muscular and brave, still standing up to wild boars and mountain lions. Although they are brave, they are also needy. These pups need daily quality time with their owners to keep from becoming aggressive and destructive.
While the Kangal is in the “Mastiff” category of dogs, they are known as the “Turkish Shephard Dog”. The loose skin of these canines hides the raw muscle underneath. These strong, powerful pooches were created to protect livestock and people from bears, wolves, jackals, panthers, and other prey animals.
These beasts don’t need to be a working or guard dog to be appreciated. When trained and socialized properly, they make great family dogs for active people.
These dogs are calm, brave, and heavy. They can get up to 130 pounds while standing only 25 inches tall. This is due to its immense muscle mass. Often compared to Hercules, they are one of the most muscular dog breeds because they are strong and true, loyal and brave.
These fur-babies are not hyper and needy. They make excellent pets for calm, quiet households. Although Rotties have a reputation for being aggressive, they are friendly and outgoing unless you train them to be otherwise.
11. Australian Cattle Dog
Also known as the Blue Heeler, Red Heeler or Queensland Heeler, these dynamites are great at herding and protecting all sorts of farm animals, and even humans. Hardworking and brave, these canines have the muscles and endurance to put in a full day’s work, and then some.
As you can see in the photo above, even through their fur, you can see the lines of well-defined muscles making the Australian Cattle Dog a very handsome breed along with being one of the most muscular dog breeds. These dogs are independent and tolerate alone time very well.
12. Carpathian Shepherd
Originating in Romania, this breed is sturdy and independent. These dogs are rugged and intelligent and prefer an active, outdoor lifestyle. Double coated to protect against rain and cold, the muscles of this breed are pretty camouflaged.
But don’t let that fool you, these working dogs have the strength that all shepherds need to protect the flock. Even tempered and independent, this is another great dog for the family looking for a calm, quiet pet.
13. German Shepherd
Intelligent “work” dogs, German Shepherds have been used as police dogs, guide dogs, and shepherds, and they have the muscles to back up their esteemed heritage. This breed makes a great watch dog.
These dogs are energetic and love play time, but they know when to be calm and restrained as well. Like most shepherding breeds, they are used to being the leader of the pack. They will need a dedicated trainer who is well versed in pack leader training methods.
14. Saint Bernard
Although not really considered a shepherd dog anymore, the Saint Bernard’s heritage says it is. Created to guard a monastery and save lost travelers, this pooch has it all. Brains, looks, strength, endurance, and loyalty are all included in this package.
Although hard to see, under the massive fur are some pretty tough muscles. Named after a treacherous mountain pass, the Saint Bernard Pass, this dog had to be independent, loving, and rugged to rescue people and animals from blizzard conditions.
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While you may not consider the short-haired, sleek Greyhound as muscular, in fact, they are. These racing dogs need powerful muscles to glide those agile bodies around the track and over the finish line.
With all the aggressiveness virtually bred out, these most intelligent dogs are easy to train and great with other animals and children. This is one well-muscled pooch that doesn’t do well as a guard dog. Just make sure you have plenty of room to roam and a high, sturdy fence.
16. Bully Whippet
Created from a mutated gene in traditional Whippets, Bully Whippets do look like something from “The Mutant Dog from Space”. At first, they were not prized for their freakish appearance, but in today’s body building culture, they are now bred specifically in the hopes of getting the coveted mutated gene.
This breed offshoot creates some of the most muscular dog breeds in the world. Traditional Whippets are also muscular, as they are related to the Greyhound.
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17. Siberian Husky
Another breed that disguises its muscles, the Siberian Husky is actually pretty ripped. Bred as work dogs, these fur-babies have strength and endurance to spare. Usually, these dogs work together as a team to pull heavy loads (and their human master) across snow and ice.
These pooches need a strong owner with pack leader training skills. The fat and fur that protect them in winter, and hide their athletic frame, also make it difficult for this breed to live in warmer climates.
18. Alaskan Malamute
Another cold weather breed, the Alaskan Malamute has a double-coat and extra fat to help keep it warm and cozy. In fact, care must be taken to keep this pup from becoming overweight.
Dogs in this breed are strong, muscled, and enduring. Like most double-coated dogs, these animals prefer the cold and can get sick if the temperatures go too high. A working, athletic breed, make sure this pooch has plenty of things to do and room to run.
19. Jack Russell Terrier
Many dog lovers get this breed only to find that the Jack Russell Terrier is really too much dog for them. These little dynamites are cute, but they are also energetic and high-strung. Make sure that you know what you are getting into, and that you are ready for the lifelong commitment involved.
As far as being one of the most muscular dog breeds, these pups are up there with the best. With a history of going into badger holes and dragging the fighting occupants out, they had to have strength, bravery, and tenacity.
20. Rat Terrier
People may not think about putting a Rat Terrier on the list of the most muscular dog breeds, but these little guys make very muscular animals. I own one, and my family jokes that she will make a good meal in the apocalypse. Sleek and trim, these pups were bred to hunt small animals above and below ground.
Their muscles give them the strength and agility to come out the winner in any fight. It is becoming common knowledge that the Rat Terrier is one of the dogs that make up the Pit Bull, and they look like it.
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Other Muscular Dog Breeds
21. Rhodesian Ridgeback
This breed was made from Mastiffs, Hounds, Danes, and Terriers. They have a distinctive line (ridge) of hair on their upper spine. These powerful dogs are great if you are looking for a dog that lives primarily outdoors.
Also known as the “African Lion Dog”, these canines were bred with muscles and strength in mind. The Ridgeback is a large, powerful, and independent breed; so, they need effective, experienced training.
These canines were bred as guard dogs and will lay down their life without hesitation, although their strength and tenacity mean that they are survivors. To many, the Bandog is considered a mutt, so you will not be able to receive AKC certification. If that is your dream, it is best to choose another breed.
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